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Arderne Gardens – A Historic Claremont Jewel

THE ARDERNE GARDENS WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1845 BY RALPH HENRY ARDERNE

Arderne was a successful timber merchant and cabinet maker who hailed from Cheshire, England. On July 28th, 1845 he acquired a piece of land in Claremont, 5.8 Hectares from the historic Stellenberg farm, around the backside of Table Mountain. He built his home and the property became known as The Hill.

R.H. ARDERNE STARTED TO COLLECT PLANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND WOULD PLANT THEM AT HIS ESTATE

In time, the garden became famous. R. H. Arderne was one of the founders of the Cape Town Botanical gardens in the old Company Gardens in 1848. Development of the garden was continued by his son, Henry Mathew Arderne into the early part of the twentieth century. The father and son duo got in touch with Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker, the father and son Directors at Kew, and the Ardernes sent newly discovered plants form South Africa to Kew (as well as other botanic gardens of the world). Admiration for the garden grew, as the citizens of Cape Town began to appreciate it as a place of exceptional beauty.

HENRY ARDERNE PASSED AWAY IN 1914, LEAVING THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION

Synchronously, the original Norfolk Island Pine began to wither and die. The property then passed out of the Ardernes’ hands and The Hill was demolished in the 1920s. The then owner of the property, a Mr. G. Wilks, intended to divide the land up into building lots. He built his home where Herschel Junior School is today.

THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN PURCHASES THE LAND

Fortunately, the Director of Parks and Gardens in the Cape Town Municipality, Mr. A. W. van den Houten, realized what a loss it would be if this garden were destroyed. He persuaded the City Council to buy the most important part of the garden, the 4.5 hectares which stretched from the Main Road, to the site where the house stood. He laid it out much in the Edwardian Style, with rose gardens, pergolas and arbors.

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